WASHINGTON — House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., has created 11 small bipartisan working groups within the committee to work on specific tax reform issues, a senior Republican said Wednesday.

Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., told those attending a policy luncheon sponsored by POLITICO and the American Action Forum that the 11 working groups are to “entertain all of the issues in each separate area, whether it is international tax or some other part of the tax code.” “Chairman Camp wants these bipartisan working groups to work with the outside groups to get feedback, drill down into the complexity of current law and understand and try to come to some working agreement as to where we will go forward on all this,” Boustany said, adding that he is optimistic about the chairman’s approach to tax reform.

While Camp has not announced the groups, sources familiar with them said they focus on real estate, pensions, charitable activities, financial services, small businesses, energy, education and family benefits, international tax, carried interest, and manufacturing as well as income and tax distribution.

Details on the working groups will be announced soon, according to committee aides.

Boustany reiterated the Republican vision for tax reform that would lower tax rates by eliminating loopholes, simplifying the code and doing these in a revenue neutral fashion.

“If the Ways and Means Committee doesn’t start the process, it doesn’t get done,” he said.

The luncheon comes just one day after President Obama called for comprehensive tax reform in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

“Now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit,” Obama said. “I realize that tax reform and entitlement reform won’t be easy.  The politics will be hard for both sides.  None of us will get 100% of what we want.  But the alternative will cost us jobs, hurt our economy, and visit hardship on millions of hardworking Americans.”

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